MPAA RATING: NC-17 Running Time: 85 min Directed by: Miguel Angel Vivas Written by: Miguel Angel Vivas & Javier Garcia Starring: Fernando Cayo, Manuela Velles & Ana Wagener
"Alive or dead isn't important, easy or difficult is important."
Middle class married couple Jaime and Marta and their teenage daughter Isa have moved in to a modern and stylish new home. The process of moving is stressful for any family, but their lavish property soon attracts the wrong kind of attention. Before they are even unpacked, the house is invaded by three criminals who force them to hand over any cards and mobile telephones. The night soon spirals into terror and violence as it becomes clear that their motives are not just financially motivated.
Alongside numerous found-footage horror films the market also seems to play host to many 'home-invasion' horrors, playing on our everyday fears of security and the safety of the family unit. As a result the concept travels very well and into different cultures - America had 'The Strangers', Britian had 'Cherry Tree Lane', France had 'THEM' and 'Kidnapped' is one of Spain's offerings to the genre. The problem of the home invasion horror is not a geographical one, but rather a creative one. There are only so many stories that work with the concept and this can lead to people getting the idea that 'once you've seen one, you've seen them all'. With so few options what is a director to do?
If you're looking for a new and innovative story, you won't really find it here, what you will find however, is a confident piece of inventive film-making. Cinema has a long and troubled history with the long take, with most Hollywood films relying on fast editing to move the action forward. However, 'Kidnapped' is made up of just 12 shots, with cuts mostly confined to dark areas of the film to make the transition as seamless as possible. This adds a great deal to the tension and chaos of a family home torn apart by violence. One particular 'jump' was one of the most effective and unsettling I've seen all year. The use of split-screen is something completely different and contributes to one of the film's most emotional moments.
The performances are good, but some moments do suffer slightly perhaps from the long takes. Not distractingly so, and it is understandable due to the technical restraints of the film. Most importantly though, they are sympathetic and there are moments where I was genuinely terrified for them.
All in all, it is a powerful film, but it is overpowered by the fact that there are many similar stories out there. Like many films that experiment with long takes, they function mainly as just experiments, but this one still managed to be a harrowing cinema experience with it. It's a film that I was incredibly impressed by in some parts, but then unmoved by others. For this reason, it's a strong 3 houses out of 5: